June 10, 2014
WEEK 3: THE HIGHLIGHTS
Monday, 2 June: This morning we attended Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, followed by a tour of the basilica and the Vatican necropolis. We also had time to pray individually in the basilica, and I chose to do so in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. As I knelt before the tabernacle to pray Lauds, the opening verse for the first psalm (Psalm 84) gave perfect expression to my thoughts: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts. My soul is longing and yearning, is yearning for the courts of the Lord.” Visiting the great churches and basilicas of Rome, one can easily fall into the role of the tourist, forgetting the spiritual significance of a site of pilgrimage. Here, in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, surrounded by art and architecture by some of the greatest artists, such as Bernini, Borromini, and da Cortona, I was reminded before all else that this is the dwelling place of the Lord: Hic Domus Dei est et porta caeli (this is the House of God and gate of heaven). The magnificence and beauty of the art and architecture there serves this purpose: it is a noble space for the Sacred Liturgy and dwelling of the Lord, a fitting shrine for his saints (first and foremost in this great basilica, St. Peter the Apostle), and a testimony to our faith. This experience in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel shaped my travels to the numerous other basilicas and churches this week, reminding me of the primary spiritual purpose of these visits.
Tuesday, 3 June: Our schedule today included trips to the Catacombs of St. Callistus and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The highlight for me was a short visit that I made to the Basilica of St. Sebastian, about a ten minute walk from the Catacombs of St. Callistus. Since we were given some time to walk around, I decided to take an old road surrounded by the Roman countryside that lead to the Basilica of St. Sebastian. I thought to myself that the view from that road of the quiet country was a view shared by the early Christians as well as countless pilgrims to Rome throughout the centuries before the great urban sprawl of the twentieth century swallowed up the majority of the open land surrounding the old city walls. The peaceful silence of that walk served as a prayerful preparation for my pilgrimage to the Basilica and shrine of St. Sebastian. As the bodies of the martyrs had been removed from the catacombs and placed in the churches of Rome, it was good to be able to pray before the tomb of one of those great martyrs that had once rested in ancient catacombs.
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May 23, 2014
WEEK 1: THE HIGHLIGHTS
On May 21st we arrived in Ars, France. We had the bus driver drop us of about a 45 minute walk outside of Ars so that we could walk the same path that St. John Vianney did when on his way to become the parish pastor. As the group of men prayed the Rosary it was hard not to think that the Cure was probably doing the same thing as he traveled on his way.
Many of us after arriving to Ars went into the town and visited the Basilica where St. John Vianney’s incorruptible body is in repose. Praying before the saint was a very powerful experience for a lot of men. We all understand, that when our journey at seminary is over we will (God willing) be priests and eventually pastors, to be kneeling before the patron saint of parish priests was a great blessing that God gave us and it helps us to understand the duty we are going to be entrusted with, that of the salvation of souls.
On May 22nd Fr. Eric took all of the men to the Church were Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary his Sacred Heart and told her of his mercy. Seeing the place of the apparition that started one of the greatest devotions in the Church inspired a sense of awe that lead everybody to prayer. We had the opportunity to attend Mass in the small church and afterwards Fr. Eric brought out a relic of St. Margaret Mary, her finger, and we all had the chance to venerate it.
Later on in the day we went to the Monastery of Cluny where in the middle ages was started one of the largest religious orders of all time. We had the opportunity to go on a tour of the ruins of the monastery and to see how these monks lived hundreds of years ago. It was really beautiful to be in a place that produced popes, cardinals and many holy monks throughout the time that the monastery was up and running.
On May 23rd we all went to Lyon France and visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. This church was built in thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary for saving Lyon from a cholera epidemic. Then during the Franco –Prussian War the town was saved again by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin when the troops looking to invade Lyon retreated. This church is filled with mosaics and statues honoring Our Lady and many other saints. The architecture and art in this basilica are truly breathtaking and give appropriate glory to God.
Tomorrow we all go on silent retreat for a few days and we are all very excited to see how God is going to work through Fr. Chris our retreat director. Please keep us in prayer.
REFLECTION: One of the beautiful things about going to the church where Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary his Sacred Heart and celebrating Mass is that we are able to see that Jesus even now reveals himself to all of us in the Eucharist. No matter where we go to Mass Jesus is always revealing himself to us making known the mercy of his Sacred Heart.
Seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay
Rome Experience Class of 2014
June 15, 2012
Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Praying today especially for our class of 2012 and the priests of the Rome Experience as they continue their journey in Europe!
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mt 6:21)
May 12, 2012
Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell
President – Christendom College
The Rome Experience is honored to welcome Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell who will be teaching this year’s theme course, “Priest as Minister of Divine Mercy after the Sacred Heart of Christ”.
Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell is the President of Christendom College, a four-year, Roman Catholic, liberal arts college located on the beautiful and historic Shenandoah River in Front Royal, Virginia. Dr. O’Donnell describes the education offered by Christendom as one “which leads the student to the consecration of the intellect and will to Christ.”
Dr. O’Donnell received his early education at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, California where he graduated with B.A. degrees in Philosophy and History. He continued there, achieving the M.A. in Church History. He completed his academic pursuits at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum), receiving the S.T.L. and S.T.D., the Licentiate and Doctorate of Sacred Theology degrees. He was the first layman to receive a doctorate in ascetical and mystical theology from the Angelicum.
A well-known lecturer, Dr. O’Donnell is also the author of the acclaimed Heart of the Redeemer, a theological investigation and spiritual guide to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and the recently published Swords Around the Cross, a historical investigation of a crucial period in the history of Catholic Ireland.
Dr. O’Donnell and his wife, Catherine, have nine children and four grandchildren. They reside in Stephen’s City, Virginia.
June 19, 2010
This is from seminarian Thomas Haan:
Pope Benedict XVI rides through St. Peter's Square on vigl of the Sacred Heart, 2010
On the evening of Thursday, June 10, we gathered in St. Peter’s Square for adoration and Benediction with the Holy Father. This moving experience on the vigil of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, combined with his session of questions and answers, made for an incredible night. This picture is of Pope Benedict XVI as he arrived in St. Peter’s Square that night.
June 12, 2010
From seminarian Jeffrey Gardner:
Yesterday (June 11, 2010) was another big day. Not only was it the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but we attended the closing Mass for the Year of the Priest. I believe there were 10,000 priests in attendance, plus thousands of seminarians. Once again, what a powerful experience! I was also about ten feet from the Holy Father when he rode around in the “popemobile” after Mass!
June 9, 2010
“Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father from June 9-11, 2010.
With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.”
The above is from the “Year for Priests” website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information, here is the link: